How did Bill Gates become the richest man in America? His wealth has nothing to do with the production costs of what Microsoft is selling: i.e. it is not the result of his producing good software at lower prices than his competitors, or of ‘exploiting’ his workers more successfully (Microsoft pays its intellectual workers a relatively high salary). If that had been the case, Microsoft would have gone bankrupt long ago: people would have chosen free systems like Linux which are as good as or better than Microsoft products. Millions of people are still buying Microsoft software because Microsoft has imposed itself as an almost universal standard, practically monopolising the field, as one embodiment of what Marx called the ‘general intellect’, meaning collective knowledge in all its forms, from science to practical knowhow. Gates effectively privatised part of the general intellect and became rich by appropriating the rent that followed from that.
The possibility of the privatisation of the general intellect was something Marx never envisaged in his writings about capitalism (largely because he overlooked its social dimension). Yet this is at the core of today’s struggles over intellectual property: as the role of the general intellect – based on collective knowledge and social co-operation – has increased in post-industrial capitalism, so wealth accumulates out of all proportion to the labour expended in its production. The result is not, as Marx seems to have expected, the self-dissolution of capitalism, but the gradual transformation of the profit generated by the exploitation of labour into rent appropriated through the privatisation of knowledge.
The same goes for natural resources, the exploitation of which is one of the world’s main sources of rent. What follows is a permanent struggle over who gets the rent: citizens of the Third World or Western corporations. It’s ironic that in explaining the difference between labour (which in its use produces surplus value) and other commodities (which consume all their value in their use), Marx gives oil as an example of an ‘ordinary’ commodity. Any attempt now to link the rise and fall in the price of oil to the rise or fall in production costs or the price of exploited labour would be meaningless: production costs are negligible as a proportion of the price we pay for oil, a price which is really the rent the resource’s owners can command thanks to its limited supply.
Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator “The Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator uses the most current and carefully researched medical and scientific data in order to estimate how old you will live to be. Most people score in their late eighties… how about you? The calculator asks you 40 quick questions related to your health and family history, and takes about 10 minutes to complete.”
Snowflake Birth: 1. Rising air, moisture and cold temperatures combine to form snowflakes in clouds high above the earth. First, water droplet freezes into ice crystal. 2. If temperature is near 5 degrees Fahrenheit and plenty of moisture is present, crystal grows six branches with arms. 3. Crystal grows heavier as moisture condenses onto it. 4. Crystal continues growing as it falls through the cloud. 5. Crystals falling into warm air begin melting. Water can act like glue, holding crystals together in large flakes. – Provided by Reference.com
Parasites Responsible for “Zom-Bees”
For some unknown reason, honeybees have been dying out en masse in recent years, a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. However, some bees collected by a biology professor to feed a praying mantis may be the key to unearthing just what is causing the colonies to disappear. The bees, he discovered, had been infected by parasitic flies. Further observation revealed that the flies deposit their eggs in bees’ abdomens, causing them to abandon their hives and exhibit zombie-like behavior such as wandering in circles and congregating near lights. After about a week they die, and the fly larvae emerge. More …
Paula Deen is getting ready to drop a bombshell on the butter-loving world: She has Type 2 diabetes.
Sources who spoke with The Daily say Deen has had the disease for some time, despite continuing to push high-fat, high-calorie foods through her cooking programs and products.
According to the insiders, Deen has negotiated a multimillion-dollar spokesperson deal with Novartis, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures her diabetes medication.
“Paula Deen is going to have to reposition herself now that she has diabetes,” one source told Flash. “She’s going to have to start cooking healthier recipes. She can’t keep pushing mac and cheese and deep-fried Twinkies when she is hawking a diabetes drug.”
MOVIES MAKE EVERYTHING LOOK WORSE THAN IN REAL LIFE.
I used to stay up late watching the film of my bicycle being stolen. It’s amazing what you notice on the 38th replay of a surveillance tape, running the grainy recording backward and forward, pausing and advancing. Sometimes I’d back the tape up to before the 17 minutes that changed my life. All the way back to the part where I still had a bicycle.
Rewinding—past all the New Yorkers striding backward toward lunch; past the Algonquin and Royalton hotels inhaling crowds and the door of the Harvard Club admitting well-fed members; past the New York Yacht Club looming impassively like a beached galleon; past all the finery and civility of West 44th Street—you come to the beginning. You come to him.
The thief. There he is. Caught, if only on tape.
He walked into the frame on a beautiful sunny January afternoon, or what the camera mounted on the front of the Penn Club referred to as 13:29:36. He was dressed like a bike messenger, but he didn’t have a bike. (Yet.) He looked at mine and took out his phone.
On a rainy night in late November, Robert Kyncl was in Google’s New York City offices, on Ninth Avenue, whiteboarding the future of TV. Kyncl holds a senior position at YouTube, which Google owns. He is the architect of the single largest cultural transformation in YouTube’s seven-year history. Wielding a black Magic Marker, he charted the big bang of channel expansion and audience fragmentation that has propelled television history so far, from the age of the three networks, each with a mass audience, to the hundreds of cable channels, each serving a niche audience—twenty-four-hour news, food, sports, weather, music—and on to the dawning age of Internet video, bringing channels by the tens of thousands. “People went from broad to narrow,” he said, “and we think they will continue to go that way—spend more and more time in the niches—because now the distribution landscape allows for more narrowness.”
Kyncl puts his whole body into his whiteboard performances, and you can almost see the champion skier he used to be. As a teen-ager in Czechoslovakia, he was sent to a state-run boarding school where talented young skiers trained for the Olympics. At eighteen, “I realized then that all I knew was skiing,” he told me. After the Velvet Revolution of 1989, he applied to a program that placed Eastern Europeans in American summer camps as counsellors, and spent the summer in Charlottesville, Virginia. The following year, Kyncl went to SUNY, in New Paltz, where he majored in international relations.
People prefer niches because “the experience is more immersive,” Kyncl went on. “For example, there’s no horseback-riding channel on cable. Plenty of people love horseback riding, and there’s plenty of advertisers who would like to market to them, but there’s no channel for it, because of the costs. You have to program a 24/7 loop, and you need a transponder to get your signal up on the satellite. With the Internet, everything is on demand, so you don’t have to program 24/7—a few hours is all you need.”
If the sport of football ever dies, it will die from the outside in. It won’t be undone by a labor lockout or a broken business model — football owners know how to make money. Instead, the death will start with those furthest from the paychecks, the unpaid high school athletes playing on Friday nights. It will begin with nervous parents reading about brain trauma, with doctors warning about the physics of soft tissue smashing into hard bone, with coaches forced to bench stars for an entire season because of a single concussion. The stadiums will still be full on Sunday, the professionals will still play, the profits will continue. But the sport will be sick.
The sickness will be rooted in football’s tragic flaw, which is that it inflicts concussions on its players with devastating frequency. Although estimates vary, several studies suggest that up to 15 percent of football players suffer a mild traumatic brain injury during the season. (The odds are significantly worse for student athletes — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 2 million brain injuries are suffered by teenage players every year.) In fact, the chances of getting a concussion while playing high school football are approximately three times higher than the second most dangerous sport, which is girls’ soccer. While such head injuries have long been ignored — until recently, players were resuscitated with smelling salts so they could re-enter the game — it’s now clear that these blows have lasting consequences.
The consequences appear to be particularly severe for the adolescent brain. According to a study published last year in Neurosurgery, high school football players who suffered two or more concussions reported mental problems at much higher rates, including headaches, dizziness, and sleeping issues. The scientists describe these symptoms as “neural precursors,” warning signs that something in the head has gone seriously wrong.
It was an unusual coincidence, one that presented a difficult choice. Mossad agent Rafi Eitan described the missed opportunity to an interviewer from Der Spiegel almost fifty years later:
In the spring of 1960, as we were planning the arrest of Adolf Eichmann, we learned that [Josef] Mengele was also in Buenos Aires. Our people checked out the address and it proved to be correct. … There were just 11 of us and we had our hands full dealing with Eichmann. After we had brought Eichmann to the house where we kept him until we flew him out, my boss at the Mossad, Isser Harel, called. He wanted us to arrest Mengele as well, but Mengele had left his home in the meantime. Harel said we should wait until he returned and then bring both him and Eichmann to Israel in the same plane. I refused because I didn’t want to endanger the success of the Eichmann operation. … When our agents returned to Argentina, Mengele had moved out of his apartment and gone underground.1
So Eichmann went to Jerusalem, and Mengele remained in South America. The first was executed after facing survivors, witnesses, and judges in an Israeli court in 1961 and the second, who died in hiding in Brazil, ended up as a skeleton on the examination table for forensic experts in 1985. Each of these forums exemplifies, and perhaps even inaugurated, different forms and sensibilities within the ethics and epistemology of war crime investigations and human rights.
US scientists are training “cyborg” bees to locate mines and weapons of mass destruction.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing technology to control the insects by attaching electronics to them during the early stages of metamorphosis.
The insects will be controlled by the Hybrid Insect Micro Electromechanical Systems (HI-MEMS), attached to the muscle or neural systems.
The HI-MEMS will run off the insect’s own body cells, enabling then be sent off to perform “microbotic missions”.
Stanford students discover that native ants use chemical weapon to turn back invading Argentine ants
Stanford sophomores studying ants in a summer course discovered that the local ants were using poison to kill invading Argentine ants. The discovery provides new insight into the war between the local “winter ants” and the South American invaders who have shown up everywhere from California to South Africa.
Trevor Sorrells A native winter ant in the act of trying to apply a drop of the whitish toxin it can secrete from its abdomen onto an Argentine ant.
A native winter ant in the act of trying to apply a drop of the whitish toxin it can secrete from its abdomen onto an Argentine ant. The angle of the photograph distorts the relative sizes of the two species, which are roughly the same size.
BY LOUIS BERGERON
Argentine ants are taking over the world – or at least the nice temperate parts. They’ve spread into Mediterranean and subtropical climates across the globe in sugar shipments from Argentina, and no native ant species has been known to withstand their onslaught – until now. A group of Stanford University undergraduate students working on a class project have discovered that a native species, the plucky winter ant, has been using chemical warfare to combat the Argentine tide.
The winter ants – named for their unusual ability to function in cold weather, rather than grind to a halt like most insects – manufacture a poison in a gland in their abdomen that they dispense when under extreme duress. One tiny drop applied to an Argentine ant is enough to put an end to it. In laboratory testing, the poison had a 79 percent kill rate.
“This is the first well-documented case where a native species is successfully resisting the Argentine ant,” said Deborah M. Gordon, a biology professor at Stanford who specializes in studying ants and taught the three-week summer class in which the students first saw the winter ants wielding their poison.
“I did not believe it at first,” she said. “This is a group of ants that does not have a sting and you don’t see them acting aggressively, but the students were able to show very clearly not just that the winter ants are using poison, but when they use it, how they use it and what the impact is.”
Gordon and her students presented their findings in a paper published earlier this year in PLoS ONE, a journal published by the Public Library of Science.
By 400 BC, Persian engineers had mastered the technique of storing ice in the middle of summer in the desert. The ice was brought in during the winters from nearby mountains in bulk amounts, and stored in a Yakhchal, or ice-pit. These ancient refrigerators were used primarily to store ice for use in the summer, as well as for food storage, in the hot, dry desert climate of Iran. The ice was also used to chill treats for royalty during hot summer days and to make faloodeh, the traditional Persian frozen dessert.
Aboveground, the structure is comprised of a large mud brick dome, often rising as tall as 60 feet tall. Below are large underground spaces, up to 5000m³, with a deep storage space. The space often had access to a Qanat, or wind catchand often contained a system of windcatchers that could easily bring temperatures inside the space down to frigid levels in summer days.
Some birds make sounds that are musical to our ears. Consider the skylark, whose melodious sounds we label as song. So it’s quite natural to wonder whether there is a connection between animal sounds and the music that humans create.
The deepest mystery of all: What purpose does music serve? Famed naturalist Sir David Attenborough examines various exotic members of the animal kingdom for clues to this fascinating puzzle.
After laying out for the audience the complex structures that transform sound into music – musical phrases, melodies, themes, and variations – Sir David introduces us to the animal acknowledged to produce the most complicated and longest song yet discovered – the humpback whale.
With Cornell University researcher Katy Payne as his guide, he eavesdrops on these gigantic mammals through a hydrophone dropped into the Dominican Republic’s Samana Bay, where the whales congregate during the winter months.
From the Caribbean, the documentary hopscotches to various points on the globe to show viewers a diverse array of animals that make music: to Australia, for the lyre bird; Sumatra, for the Siamang gibbon; and Sweden, for the great weed warbler.
Watch the full documentary now (playlist – 50 minutes)